Just sitting

Some people meditate with a mantra. Some people count their breaths. But I am reminded of a comment Billy Collins made in an interview how mostly poets stare out of windows. This, too, is meditation. And it is the best way to start the day, not diving in. I can sit up in bed in the emerging half-light and not wear my glasses and all is lightly blurred. Zen Buddhists talk about ‘facing the wall.’ My window is a kind of facing the wall practice., just sitting before it, wrapped in a shawl. My mother-in-law would quote a line from some long ago poem, preaching the virtue of a life lived with time to “stop and stare.” She was right. It’s sad that only as we age and approach retirement that we treasure the sheer pleasure of stopping and staring aimlessly, not worried about appearing rude. It is akin to taking time to smell the flowers, to savour the fragrance of a moment.

Poetry practice helps me to take time to stop and stare and to inhale the fragrance of a moment. In a world that can be either chaotic or routinely so repetitive that its Groundhog Day everyday, those moments are the reality, the gift of stillness. And then words want to intrude. But that’s okay. My mind has been off its leash long enough.

Just Sitting

Facing a grey morning
the wind is wailing
and there is a fluttering
of other movement,
birds winging eastwards,
right to left,
as you would read
Hebrew or Arabic,
all out of the purview
of glass
rain pebble-dashed.

Watching.
Then
the wind drops.
The sun creeps
from the east,
left to right,
and gilts every twig
on every branch
of the willow tree.

This then
is the golden bough,
the light that shines
from Persephone's brow.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

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